A growing industrial skills crisis and the need to improve workforce performance is driving adoption of connected worker applications
Poka, a leading connected worker platform built specifically for manufacturers, has raised $25 million in Series B financing in support of the company’s next phase of growth. 40 North Ventures led the investment with participation from McRock Capital and existing investors SE Ventures, CDPQ, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and Leclerc. This round brings the company’s total funding to more than $45 million.
The manufacturing sector is facing a perfect storm of challenges from a worsening skills crisis, increased operational complexity and workforce volatility caused by the pandemic. According to a recent study from The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte (2021), 77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond. Poka helps address these challenges by giving factory workers the ability to learn continuously and solve problems more autonomously at the point of need.
Many industrial leaders including Nestlé, Bosch, Johnson & Johnson and Tetra Pak have committed to developing workforce competencies and operational knowledge by including Poka as a pillar of their digital transformation strategy. “The concept of connecting every single worker was the foundation of our digital journey and supports a highly collaborative culture while ensuring high quality standards for the production of Purina’s pet care products,” shared Paul Ingram, Director Digital Manufacturing Operations, Nestlé Purina. “We believe having workers connected and able to get information whenever and wherever they are in the factory is key to agility and our ability to continue advancing and innovating our processes.”
Poka will use the new funds to accelerate product development in support of the company’s vision to give manufacturers a single hub for operational knowledge and collaboration on the factory floor. The funding will also expedite Poka’s ability to better serve its growing global customer base by scaling its go-to-market teams.
“As the Industrial Internet of Things advances the capabilities of manufacturing equipment, it’s critical that factory workers also have digital technologies to provide true continuous improvement on the factory floor,” said Scott MacDonald, Co-founder of McRock Capital. “Poka’s platform is significantly improving plant productivity at many of the largest manufacturers in the world.”
40 North Ventures and McRock Capital bring to Poka deep Industry 4.0 experience and a shared passion for driving digital transformation in manufacturing.
“Many Industry 4.0 initiatives promise disruptive automation solutions without considering the workforce and existing processes,” shared Ben Sampson, Principal at 40 North Ventures. “We were struck by Poka’s ability to increase productivity — at the shift, factory and enterprise levels — by focusing on improving the way workers interact with equipment, workflows and each other.”
“Connected workers are empowered workers,” emphasized Alexandre Leclerc, CEO & Co-Founder of Poka. “Our goal is to help our manufacturing clients turn every production problem into an opportunity to build collective knowledge, learn and improve.”
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